Idolizing a professional athlete is, in my opinion, part of growing up as a sports-loving child. You dream about how you want to be just like them. You draw pictures of them on scratch sheets of paper at school even though you know how bad of an artist you are. You watch them succeed and enjoy life. You watch them fail and feel as bad as they do. You adopt a nickname that is remarkably similar. You begin obsessing over every shot, rebound, and blocked shot.
All of these behavioral traits can be considered quite normal with your average adolescent male. However, there often reaches a point where the relationship begins to fade, dwindle, or even completely disappear. That point is usually associated with extreme disappointment and/or anger. Which point am I referring to?
You realize that your idol is leaving you where he brought you and you have no idea how to react.
In this hypothetical situation of pure fandom, this teen checks his phone only to find that his world has been flipped upside-down. He looks around, stumbles, and looks for something to fall on. He reaches the point where he thinks he’s about to cry, but then holds it off for now. He gets home, runs to his area of isolation, and looks up. What does he see?
He visualizes a past that he loved so much and a future that he doesn’t know how to deal with.
He wonders to himself why this was so hard to deal with. “We all knew he was leaving!” and other phrases of the sort are flying through his brain. He grabs his head and throws himself down to his bed. What followed was a waterworks display that any car wash would envy. He was clearly bothered.
If you haven’t put 5 and 5 together, I am this person.
June 6th, 2013 will go down as one of the roughest days of my life (up until now). I had expected a Smoove departure, but I never pictured it being so difficult.
Note: Now that I’ve had several hours to ponder what this move means for the Hawks’ future and my own, as well. Many folks I am close with have suggested that I am automatically sending my loyalty, which I think is a sign of how little some people know me. Don’t be alarmed, I am not abandoning my buddies in the ATL.
Tears aside, we are now forced to reconcile with the fact that J-Smoove is out of the navy and red for good. While I am writing this, Atlanta lost Devin Harris and Zaza Pachulia to Dallas and Milwaukee, respectively. That’s three critical components of the 2012-2013 team now elsewhere.
Danny Ferry sure did clean house.
While his days in Atlanta were filled with boos and cheers, Josh Smith should be remembered as the man who brought highlights back to the Highlight Factory that is Philips Arena. He should be recognized as one of the most unique players ever to perform for the city (as Clark Kellogg would call him, a stat sheet stuffer… SUPREME!). He should be remembered as the player who was only great at one thing (athleticism), but he was really, really good at everything else (except for perimeter shooting, but that’s not important right now).
After reflecting, I’ve realized how lucky I am that Smoove was available for me to enjoy. There are a lot of “what-ifs” that could’ve changed his career and my life, as well.
What if the Hawks draft JR Smith with the 17th selection in the 2004 NBA Draft? I’d bet my car on the fact that I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’d be obsessing over baseball or football or some other NBA franchise.
What if the Grizzlies had more money to offer Smoove in the summer of 2008 and GM Rick Sund decided to move on without him in Atlanta? Well, if everything happened like I mentioned in Part One, I’m probably a Mempis Grizzlies die-hard. Who knows if I would’ve discovered a Mempis (yes, I’m misspelling it on purpose) blogger on Twitter who inspired me to start writing? I don’t even want to imagine that life.
What if GM Danny Ferry unloaded Josh to Milwaukee before the trade deadline? As I mentioned in my article at the time, this move was a bad idea. Instead of looking to Paul Millsap and the Junkyard Dog (DeMarre Carroll) for inspiration going into next season, I’m forced to trust Beno Udrih, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, and Ekpe Udoh (best Tweeter in the league). Yuck!
Needless to say, Josh Smith has made my life better in more ways than one. He is the reason I follow the game of basketball. He is the reason I wore shoes that didn’t fit me (the AdiZero Ghost’s – his shoe) for all of freshman basketball. He is the reason I put band-aids on my toes every morning before practice. He is the reason I strive to get better as a writer and as a fan of the league. He is the reason I am in love with the Atlanta Hawks, one of the best decisions of my life.
Starting next season, he won’t be the reason anymore.
While following him in Detroit is still possible thanks to NBA League Pass and my ability to watch more than just Spurs games on my cable service, it’s something that I have no plan to obsess over. I’ve received many questions from friends, both in real life and on Twitter, asking if I’m planning on switching websites, nicknames, or favorite players. To answer those questions, I’d like to say that Josh Smith of the Atlanta Hawks will always be in my basketball dreams. Josh Smith of the Detroit Pistons has a slim chance to fit into my life. I will continue to be known as “B-Smoove” by my friends and I will continue to call my dog “Smoovie”.
Moving on will be tough and it isn’t an overnight process, but it needs to be done. I can’t obsess over something that isn’t there anymore.
Thank you for everything you’ve done for me, Josh. You were my inspiration to Halloween costumes and alter egos. You will always be important to me.
I will leave you with a portion of a poem I wrote in 9th grade that sums up my life as B-Smoove.
There’s no other player I’d rather be with
My friend, my buddy, my hero: Josh Smith.